Sales of new single-family houses in February dropped approximately 13.4 percent from a year ago to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.08 million, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Last month’s sales rate is down 10.5 percent from the revised January 2006 rate of 1.2 million units, the agencies reported.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is used to project a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

The median sales price of new houses sold in February was $230,400, down 2.9 percent from $237,300 reported in February 2005.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 548,000, which represents a supply of 6.3 months at the current sales rate.

Changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show irregular movement. It takes six months to establish a trend for new houses sold, the agencies reported. Preliminary new-home sales figures are subject to revision due to the survey methodology and definitions used.

The survey is primarily based on a sample of houses selected from building permits. Since a sale is defined as a deposit taken or sales agreement signed, this can occur prior to a permit being issued. An estimate of these prior sales is included in the sales figure. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimate of total sales is revised about 3 percent. Changes in sales price data reflect changes in the distribution of houses by region, size, etc., as well as changes in the prices of houses with identical characteristics.

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